New to medium format.

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by nlochner, Aug 27, 2006.

  1. nlochner

    nlochner Member

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    Hello, i shoot a lot of 35mm, and know nothing of Medium Format photography. I really want to stat doing portraiture, and was wondering, if medium format is good for that, knowing that i don't want to start large format. Here are a few general questions i have.
    What kind of camera would you recommend for a starter? (Student budget in mind.)

    what film do most of you use?

    what size film do you use?

    what film is easiest to get?

    What is the cost of film?

    how do you get your film processed?

    Do professional labs still print it?

    If i have a regular 35mm enlarger, can i get a new lens, and negative carrier to print my own?

    What is the cost of film?

    Thanks a lot for helping someone new to medium format

    nlochner
     
  2. Drew B.

    Drew B. Subscriber

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    the 6x4.5 is probably the best and I like the Mamiya super/pro models. They are similar to 35mm SLR's in size and handling. Plus mamiya has a zoom lens for it. This 120 flm is plentiful (support our supporters!) can be processed by anyone and is 3-4 times bigger than 35mm. Buy 5 packs and they come out to about $3.50 or less a roll. ...forgot the other questions....
     
  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    You can search any of the major suppliers and find out how much film costs, and check with the lab in your area or a mail order lab like A&I to find out about processing. You don't say whether you want to shoot color, B&W, slides, or negs, so it's hard to advise on that.

    Personally, I don't find 645 a very compelling format. It's better than 35mm for sure, but as I see it, you're getting the bulk of a 6x6 system without a sufficiently bigger neg than 35mm. I like to print square from 6x6, but even if you like to crop to 645, you can choose where to crop from 6x6, so it's like having shift or rise/fall, like on a view camera.

    You need a medium format or larger enlarger and a lens in the 75-105mm range (depending on format) to print medium format. What model enlarger do you have?

    There are lots of good values in medium format cameras right now. An SLR would be ideal for portraits--easiest to manage close focusing. Good bargains are to be had right now with the Mamiya RB67 system, Bronica, and basic Hasselblad systems like a 500C/M with one back, WLF, and one lens.

    Check out Bob Monaghan's extensive MF website for info on lots of different cameras--

    http://medfmt.8k.com/
     
  4. nlochner

    nlochner Member

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    Hello david, thanks for the advice, and you had a few questions for me about my preferences, and equiment.

    I shoot both color and black and white, but lately, ive been more into black and white then color, so i was wondering how much mf black and white film was.

    You also asked what model enlarger i had, well i have two.

    Beseler printmaker 45, and Beseler 67s dichroic.

    Can i simply buy a new lens, and negative carrier for either of those enlargers, to print mf?

    nlochner
     
  5. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Yes, it sounds like you've got a 35mm enlarger (shouldn't that be "Printmaker 35"--or is it a 4x5" enlarger? I thought only the 35mm was called the "Printmaker") and a 6x7 enlarger. A new neg carrier for your new format in the 67s, and a lens of appropriate focal length (80mm or 90mm) should be just fine.

    Depending on the B&W film you like and how much you purchase and where you get it, there are films in the range of about $1.25-3.75 a roll of 120. A 120 roll gives you 16 shots on 645, 12 on 6x6, and 10 on 6x7 (and presumably you won't be going larger, unless you have a bigger enlarger). Most of the films available in medium format are very capable films, and which you prefer is largely a matter of taste.
     
  6. AZLF

    AZLF Member

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    120 is a great format for portraits. I have cameras in both the 6x6 format as well as 6x4.5 and of late I prefer the 6x4.5 for the reasons stated earlier in this thread. My Mamiya is handles very much like a 35mm slr and I really like the results I get with the 150mm lens. However I only get 15 shots per roll using b&w and I usually only shoot 14 when I shoot chromes. The lab I use puts a big staple in what would be frame number one.
     
  7. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    On the student budget issue, you could look at TLRs. I am a long term user of a Mamiya C330. It, or a Mamiya C220 and a couple of lenses can be very reasonable.

    I have recently been seduced by the Mamiya 645 cameras too, and prices are very reasonable on the used market.

    6x7 is slightly less common, at least in easily hand held choices, but there is a plethora of Mamiya RB67 equipment available. Many people have also had great success with the Pentax 67 line. I've been exploring Koni-Omega in this format - the cameras are older, and service and parts are harder to come by, but I think that if I get everything working the way I want it, it will be a great piece of kit, obtained at very reasonable cost.

    This is a great time to experiment. Equipment that even 6 years ago was totally out of my price range (assuming reality) is now incredibly reasonable.

    You might want to consider standardizing on one of your enlargers though. Accessories for the Beseler 67 series are reasonably plentiful on e-bay, it is a good enlarger (I've had mine for 30 years) and there is a real advantage to using the same light source and equipment across platforms.

    One caution though - it is addictive. You probably want fewer cameras and less in the way of lenses and accessories than I have, unless of course you have that storage goal of mine - the three storey basement!

    Matt
     
  8. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    Go 6X6 for starters.
    A cheap TLR is one (or a lot) good option(s) could be rolleicord, Yashica Mat 124 or Minolta Autocord. All of these are fixed lens cameras but many people never use anything but the standard lens in MF even for portraits. An option in the SLR range is the Bronica SQ-A and SQ-Ai which look and behave a bit like the Hasselblad but at a lower price. Optics are great the camera feels sturdy.
    Most of the enlargers I have seen will do 6X6 as well as 24X36 not many are 24X36 only but thats here in europe and you may have one of the latter. 6X7 requires a bigger enlarger and though they may be commone in the US you will have to get yet another enlarger and so forth.
    I am without a real darkroom but the B&W I do shoot I develop myself.
    I shoot Fuji Neopan 400 and process in Rodinal 1/50.
    Easiest film to get ? Hmm you have to find out for yourself.
    It could be Kodak Tri-X, Ilford HP5+ or FP4+ or Fuji or something else. Just pick the one you can get and stick to it untill you really know it. Not all highsteet labs process MF film but you should be able to find one that does.
    If you buy outdated B&W film cost will be low, if you buy the fresh Pro-line film price could be high. There are cheap film from Efke(Adox) and a lot of options from china some of which are quite good.
    Cheers Søren
     
  9. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    This is one of those questions where you can ask 20 people and get 20 responses.

    I'll certainly second 6x6 for budget -- there's plenty of choice -- but I'd also suggest that 6x7 (or bigger) is the answer for quality: possibly a Graflex XL (which I have) or a Koni-Omega (which I don't). If you can afford it, a Mamiya RB67 is good but be aware that some have been worn out in professional use: try to find an ex-amateur camera.

    Personally, I find 645 a miserable little format, a sort of 'super 35mm'. Yes, it gives significantly better results than 35mm, because it sort of 'tips the balance': where 35mm is marginal, 645 is easy. But 6x7 is better still.

    Cheers,

    Roger (www.rogerandfrances.com)
     
  10. Marco Gilardetti

    Marco Gilardetti Member

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    It seems that still nobody answered to this. Well, the general answer is no.

    I did some search for the printmaker 45 and it doesn't seem to exist. Do I have to assume it is the 35 instead? This is a condenser-type enlarger, and you need to purchase an appropriate condenser for mid-format as well. The printmaker 35 can be upgraded up to 6x7 format with a converting kit, you may probably want to buy one of those.

    The 67 dichroic should be a diffused light enlarger. The name itself implies that it can work or can be upgreded up to 6x7. But again, you have to check if the mirror box and diffuser are wide enough to light up a medium format negative. Otherwise, you'd have to purchase the appropriate mirror box and diffuser.
     
  11. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    Marco
    Isn't it likely that the 67s was originaly sold for 6X7 printing and fitted with a 35mm negcarrier later ? Or is it normal for besseler to sell their units in the smaller format grade forcing people to buy "condensors", lightchambers, negcarriers etc when upgrading ?
    Meopta enlargers are very common in europe and the ones I have had (all opemus) where sold with both 24X36 and 6X6 negcarriers and would do both formats with no problems at all. I'm looking for a Magnifax for my next darkroom (due 2-3 years) and I think it would take 6X9 without problems also.
    Cheers
    Søren
     
  12. Marco Gilardetti

    Marco Gilardetti Member

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    I don't know. I only wanted to point the attention to the fact that you don't need the carrier and the lens ONLY, you need to check (or buy) a condenser or a mirror box as well, depending on the case.

    With Durst units (I don't use anything else) it is usual to find the enlarger fitted for 35mm in the shop, and then UPGRADE it with the proper mid-format kit. Some models have two mirror boxes which can be swapped with a sliding knob according to the format one wants to print. In few words: it depends.
     
  13. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    Since you're coming from 35mm, you might want to consider the 645 format as a matter of ergonomics. Most of the 645 format cameras handle like big 35mm cameras and they won't feel so foreign to you, being a 35mm user. You might also consider a Pentax 67 for the same reason.

    I use both a Mamiya TLR system in 6x6 and a Pentax SLR in 645. While there are lots of reasons to like the 6x6 negative, I mostly use the Pentaxes. A 645 negative blows away a 35mm negative in the same film and the Pentaxes make it as easy to take the picture as using a 35mm SLR. The 645 also gives you three or four extra shots per roll compared to a 6x6.

    No matter what format or camera you decide on, there are some great bargains available right now in the used medium format market. Enjoy!
     
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  15. DougGrosjean

    DougGrosjean Member

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    If you're near Dearborn / Detroit, I'd let you borrow one of my Ciro-Flex TLR's.

    As an experienced 35mm user, I didn't find the move to MF a difficult thing. Thrilling, but not difficult.

    Doug Grosjean
    NW OH / Dearborn MI (weekends)
     
  16. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    When I first started out in MF I tried a 645 which almost turned me of. I then got a Yashica Mat124G and later a Bronica SQ-Ai which I liked a lot. What really exited me and still does is the square format. It is so different from the 2X3 and 3X4 ratio in 35mm and 645 that it really makes you (or atleast me) change the view on subjects. The square also lend itself to a lot of subjects better than the other formats.
    My current camera is a Pentax 6X7 MU which is a great camera too though I still regret the day I sold my Bronica. There will always be one reason to go bigger but with bigger negs camera size will increase and though the P67 is not that heavy and I am a big guy I still get aching shoulders and a sore back after carrying it around the whole day. Or rather did cause its been a while since I last had it out for a shot but thats due to other reasons :smile:
    If you like to go really close you will find that many MF cameras wont do that without extensiontubes or close up lenses. That came as a surprise to me being used to close focusing lenses in 24X36.
    The Mamiya RB and RZ series will focus very close because of the bellows so for close ups in a studio they will be great.
    Cheers
    Søren
     
  17. Drew B.

    Drew B. Subscriber

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    Man...that's weird!

    He wants to do portraits...not grand canyon type landscapes....35 is good for portraits and 645 does a great job of improvement over the 35. the RZ which I have, isn't the type of camera to do "walking around" portraits with. Its too heavy. Unless you are using a tripod for each portrait, stay away from the Rz/Rb and the Pentax 67...they're just too big.
     
  18. AZLF

    AZLF Member

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    While I agree in principle about the weight and size of the RZ/RB series are they really that much heavier than a C-330? Wedding photographers have been carting those around for years. When I started looking into a 120 slr this year the prices on the RZ/RB's had not come down in price as much as the 6x4.5's which was a major factor in my picking that format.
     
  19. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    A question of taste and view. I find the square 6X6 format suits portraits better than 645. Then again thats only my oppinion, great portraits can be made in any format even panoramic :smile:
    What did I say about the RZ/RB ?
    Well ok we shouldn' t be arguing these "which is best for...." but only give our best advise based on our individual experience.
    Cheers
    Søren
     
  20. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Me too.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  21. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Me three... except for the "panoramic portrait" comment.
     
  22. nlochner

    nlochner Member

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    Hello, to all that helped, thanks a lot. I think all of this knowledege will help me make the rite decisison.

    To all that were wondering about my mysterious beseler 45 printmaker, you were correct, as it is a beseler 35 printmaker. I dont know what i was thinking.

    My last question, is how can you tell, if the mirror box and diffuser are wide enough to light up a medium format negative? Is it as easy as it seams, look at how big of an area it can lite up? Also, as im not an expert on enlarger parts, whats an easy way to find these two parts?

    thanks alot,

    nlochner
     
  23. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Your 67s dichroic will have a light mixing chamber in it - it goes between the light source and the negative stage. There are two types - a 35mm chamber, and a 6x7 chamber. They tend to be labelled on the front of the box.

    I believe that the 67s would have come with the 6x7 chamber - the 35mm chamber was meant as an accessory.

    Here is a B&H listing for the 35mm chamber:

    35mm mixing chamber

    the 6x7 chamber has the same exterior dimensions (about the size of a small coffee cup).

    The chamber itself looks fairly inconsequential - like someone had some extra styrofoam that would fit well in the opening, and decided to put it there.

    If you have the 6x7 chamber, you can use it for all sizes up to 6x7. The only advantage of the 35mm chamber is it will give you shorter exposure times for 35mm and smaller films. If you have only the 35mm chamber, you will need to find a 6x7 chamber to use anything larger.

    If there is no label on thechamber you have (they are just stuck on) than look at the size of the opening where the light comes out - if it is approximately the size of a 35mm frame, it is a 35mm chamber.

    If you have a 67c (condenser) lamphead, they generally come with all necessary condensers - one just needs to reposition them in the head.

    With respect to the size and weight concerns for Mamiya RB67, unless you have a prism finder on them, IMHO they aren't incredibly heavy compared to my Mamiya C330, but they are very large and therefore, potentially awkward.

    Hope this helps.

    Matt
     
  24. Rolleiflexible

    Rolleiflexible Member

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    Don't forget the folders.

    N, one last idea on cameras -- look into the many types of folding MF rangefinder cameras made in Germany in the 1950s. They are small and light, compact like a 35mm rangefinder. And they are plentiful and cheap. Take your chances on eBay and you can snag a good user for $50. Splurge and buy one completely refurbished by Jurgen Krekel, and you'll still spend no more than $200 or so for most models. Jurgen's site is at www.certo6.com -- it is a virtual encyclopedia of folding cameras from Agfa to Zeiss and you can learn a ton there about them. I bought a Balda Super Baldax (6x6) and an Agfa Record III (6x9) from Jurgen and have been very happy with both cameras. Here's a link to a photo I took with the Balda, of my girlfriend with the Agfa Record (which she has since claimed as her own):

    http://www.mcnew.net/6x6/slides/030Melanie8.html

    Sanders McNew
    www.mcnew.net
     
  25. nlochner

    nlochner Member

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    Thanks again, and i have a 35 mm stage, not a 6x7. Unfortunately when i bought the enlarger, the seller asked if i did medium format, and i said no, so i think she discluded the 6x7 stage in the package.


    Cheers,

    nick
     
  26. Michal Kolosowski

    Michal Kolosowski Member

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    HEY!

    I think that one of the biggest advantages medium format has over the 35mm is that it gives the ability to view the image projected by the camera on the mate screen with both eyes. It makes the photography a lot different than peeking through the keyhole like viewfinder in 35mm camera.
    That’s why I suggest getting a camera with waist level finder that is at least 6x6. IMO the square format is the most adventurous because standard rules of composition do not apply to it in the same way they apply to other non-square formats. For me 6x7 Mamiya RZ is the weapon of choice, buy you might find it to be to bulky and cumbersome.

    Good luck,
    Michal.